Despite locals being confused about its existence, Heirisson Island is very easy to get to. Located between South Perth CBD and Victoria Park, there’s parking available or bus stops a short walk away.
When you do make it, you can choose to hang out at one of the many picnic tables, sprawl out on the grass by the water or just take a leisurely stroll around the island.
Fishing is permitted in certain areas and dogs are allowed on the eastern end but forbidden on the western half. The west side of the island is the largest and is where you can spot some rather friendly kangaroos who are quite used to people. Just please do not feed any wildlife and in summer be wary of snakes (don’t freak out, they are rare).
Heirisson Island has been largely undeveloped. Meaning you can glimpse back in time at what much of the area around the Swan River would have looked like before English settlement.
The naming of Heirisson Island occurred some 26 years prior to English settlement of the Swan River. Being named after a French midshipman; Francois-Antoine Boniface Heirisson who was part of a French scientific expedition to the area who made the first maps of the Swan River.
Of course, people had been living in the area for thousands of years before western exploration. The area around Heirisson Island is traditionally associated with the Beelo Noongar peoples. The mudflats and small islands that made up the area of the upper swan were known as ‘Matagarup’ meaning one leg deep. The area was one of the main crossing points for people looking to cross the river as parts were shallow enough to walk through. Matagarup is now also the name of the bridge between the Perth CBD and Optus Stadium, which is visible from the islands eastern edge.
On the western end of the Island, you can find a statue dedicated to an influential and important figure of Western Australian history. The statue is of Yagan, a Noongar leader who carried out reprisals and attacks against early colonisers. Yagan saw the invasion of Noongar Boodjar (aboriginal land) for what it was and became a notorious figure that drew both fear and admiration from the settlers. You can read more about Yagan HERE
Heirisson Island is the perfect day trip in Perth for people wanting some great outdoors whilst remaining in the comfort of the city.